A New Way Marriott Is Cutting Breakfast Costs, Tells You It’s An Enhancement

Marriott’s CEO says that the pandemic has been a great opportunity for cost-cutting.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to look at some of those things that are historic in nature and have no application in terms of the real life we live in today.

One of their areas of focus for cost-cutting is free breakfast at the brands where that’s offered, looking for ways that hopefully guests won’t notice.

[W]hen you think about it across our free breakfast brands, how do we simplify the breakfast offering? …How can we do it in a more cost-effective way? And at the end of the day, perhaps even deliver a better product and a better experience?

We’re beginning to see that cash out with changes announced for Fairfield Inn in Japan. Fairfields in Asia have offered hot breakfast. Going forward they’ll offer a breakfast box (emphasis mine):

Ranging in size from 21 to 25 square meters, each guestroom features comfortable beds, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a space-saving shower booth. The hotels also offer a Breakfast Box, allowing guests to start their mornings with a bento box filled with delicious local specialties as they prepare for the next stage of their journey.

Several Fairfields in Japan were reportedly not offering free breakfast and instead charging for it saying that the free breakfast brand standard didn’t apply there. Meanwhile, assuming Fairfields offer free breakfast, the Bonvoy terms don’t make it an elite benefit at the brand.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like the alliteration of Bento Box Breakfast. And I’d probably prefer paying for the contents of a bento box at a Fairfield Inn in Japan over whatever a DiamondRock-owned Marriott in North America is willing to give me as a Platinum member.

Just like Delta’s sleight of hand in announcing eco-friendly onboard amenities hoping you won’t notice they’re really just making service cuts permanent, or Frontier claiming they’re better for the environment hoping you’ll miss that the argument is they squeeze more passengers onto planes (so more travel for similar levels of emissions), Marriott buries the lede here that ‘breakfast boxes’ replace hot breakfast.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting observation on whether Fairfield Inn is required to provide a free breakfast since the brand isn’t expressly covered by the Bonvoy terms and conditions. I know there are Fairfield properties in Asia with a full-service restaurant. Not sure why Bonvoy doesn’t said at Fairfields with a restaurant, breakfast is included for elites. Just like how Courtyards outside North America with a lounge (a handful of Courtyards in Asia have a lounge) have to give elites access.

  2. This strikes me as yet another example of how Marriott’s Development and Management divisions work with owners or franchisees to undercut the Loyalty division.

  3. Based on my recent stays in the US, many Marriott-manage hotels are slipping into 2-star run-down properties. Note that: I do not see how Fairfield properties could be even 3 stars nowadays::
    Two-Star: Like one-star hotels, two-star properties are typically more affordable than hotels that have a higher rating — they are also usually quite comfortable.
    Three-Star: Three-star hotels ordinarily have some unique amenities and provide quality service..

  4. I agree with FNT Delta Diamond. I don’t think the Fairfield Inn Amritsar offers free breakfast to all guests. The vagueries on marriott.com led me to assume that Fairfield brand standards in Asia do not require a free breakfast.

  5. I was curious if a typical Japanese breakfast is even hot – I know it certainly isn’t bacon and eggs. Turns out it looks a lot more like what we would consider a lunch or dinner. Accroding to The Spruce Eats:

    “Typically, a traditional Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, a protein such as grilled fish, and various side dishes. Familiar side dishes may include tsukemono (Japanese pickles), nori (dried seasoned seaweed), natto (fermented soybeans), kobachi (small side dishes which usually consist of vegetables), and a green salad.”

  6. I have encountered the same problem with Fairfields in Asia (in my case, in Surabaya – Indonesia) back in April 2021. With the help from John at LoyaltyLobby, a Msrriott spokesperson offered this :

    The welcome gift for the Fairfield Inn brand is:

    Gold member – 250 points only

    Platinum and above – 500 points or F&B amenity

    At Fairfield Inn in the US/Canada, free breakfast is offered to all guests. Fairfield Inn in Asia operates differently and does not offer a free breakfast guests.

    So Marriott has been running this dual brand standards since at least last year. In my case (Titanium member) the FnB Amenity offered was a can of Coke and 1 snack item. #Bonvoyed However, when I pushed back strongly directly at the property they agreed to provide the full breakfast benefits (which was slightly better than the North American. properties’ breakfast). Prolly because they’re afraid of losing the booking àt a time of record low occupancy.

  7. If Marriott is going to have a brand that is fundamentally different than the same brand in North America then why not create a new brand? Marriott really doesn’t understand brand marketing. By the way, I thought Marriott had dropped the “Inn” from Fairfield?

  8. I am unloading all of my loyalty points on aspirational stays. It is time for me to stop being so loyal to a bad partner.

  9. Well I am lifetime titanium like 3 times over. My likely Marriott stats this yr? Probably one free night off the card.last year? 1 absurdly cheap staycation night in Seattle and 2 nights in Lafayette. So 2 yrs 4 nights and not because I wasn’t traveling. As the portals ramp up points, breakfast upgrades and late check out are what’s left for loyalty. And sometimes the portals match perks too. Makes bonvoy irrelevant. Working Hyatt this year but then I am orobably a full free agent.

  10. Arne Sorenson ruined the incredible hotel chain Bill Marriott built. Putting a M&A attorney in charge of hospitality was not wise. I’m one of
    many Lifetime Titaniums who have forsaken Marriott.

    Higher prices, poor service and having to fight for upgrades in nearly empty hotels is just not worth it. Competing hotels treat me better without elite status than Marriott.

    Bill Marriott understood that it is repeat customers that ensure the longtime viability of the lodging industry. Sorenson panders to the shortsighted franchise owners who just want to reduce costs this quarter without regard to how many customers they run off.

  11. Thank you for this. As Delta, Marriott and Hilton are being deceitful and smashing apart thier loyalty programs we need this foram to unmask them. Also as a Diamond/Diamond/ Platinum, I’m changing how I do business with all 3. We must let them know that we can see the lies.

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